Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Wednesday Review: Last Night at the Blue Alice
Author: Mehitobel Wilson
Publisher: Bedlam Press
Publication date: September 2015
Point of sale: Amazon
Price: Kindle $2.99 or Paperback $9.95
Description: Mollie Chandler is on the verge of joining a shadowy Order whose magical operatives, the Glymjacks, manipulate events of the past. As the only candidate for the role of Psychopomp, she must pass one final test before the job is hers. The crumbling Blue Alice has been gathering ghosts for over a hundred years. Once a grand mansion, it was converted to a rooming house in the 1920s. Tenants throughout the century since have suffered violent poltergeist attacks by a vengeful spirit, complained of a spectral woman in black who looms and leers at their every move, reported hearing music when there should be none playing, and appealed to exorcists when tormented by a judgmental demon. Mollie must use magic, ingenuity, and intuition to travel back in time to the source of each haunting, avert their circumstances, and change history. If she succeeds, she will have to give up everything she’s ever known to become a Glymjack. If she fails, Mollie will not survive - if she’s lucky. The alternatives to death are far worse. Mollie has but one night to change the histories of the dead and plot the course for her own future. She is running out of time, and into the haunted heart of the Blue Alice.
Good morning! Cybelle here with another Wednesday review. This week I read an intriguing novella by Mehitobel Wilson. The Blue Alice is considered the most haunted house in the region, and it has been selected as the location of Mollie's final exam. In order to become a true psychopomp, she must travel back in time to intervene in the final moments of people's lives and prevent them from becoming the tortured spirits that haunt the place. When she returns to the present, she must give the details of the experience to her Second. During the course of the night, Mollie makes four trips to the past to correct the ghost problems in the old house. The first one goes smoothly, but the three following encounters present far greater challenges. Although Mollie succeeds in clearing the place of ghosts, she fears her methods will destroy her chances of joining the Glymjacks.
This novella is an engaging read and often quite funny. Each of Mollie's interventions would make great standalone stories, but they are beautifully linked through the framework of a final exam. It's an interesting twist on traditional haunted house stories. Although Wilson is best known for horror, this is more of a paranormal fantasy. Her research into various cultural beliefs surrounding death and haunting is clear throughout the novella and adds to its charm. The characters are well developed and memorable. The tale of the sad Goth girl, Gillian Frye, is both humorous and tragic. She sees Mollie as a ghost and is eager to communicate with her. Her death is the hardest for Mollie to process and forces her to reconsider the usefulness of her empathy in dealing with the dead. Her encounter with another young woman, Ruby, makes her question whether all hauntings are bad.
If you're in the mood for a quick, lighthearted read with horror elements, this is a good choice. You'll find references to classic horror films and classical antiquity, along with a great cast of well-drawn characters. Definitely a treat for anyone who already misses Halloween!